Week from Monday 7th May 2012

Whoopee! It's another BANG COLLAR DAY, I nearly forgot! A nice whole day to wind down after last night's hot date with THE TULL. I won't go on about it here as there's a perfectly good PROPER BLOG about it elsewhere... Suffice it to say (funny old phrase that...) a good time was had by all. Bought the programme, bought the t-shirt. Also received a free baseball cap (last night of tour, too many left over), which I gave away. Wouldn't be seen dead etc etc.

The webverse was buzzing with chat and pictures of the SUPERMOON over the weekend. Of course, HERE it was hidden behind cloud, when it was at its MOST spectacular elsewhere. I briefly caught a glimpse of its fat yellow face on Sunday night though.

Time to catch up on my drab Scandinavian copfests, as well as the last two episodes of our own "Silent Witness" (or as I call it "SOLENT WETNESS"), which is clearly cut from similar clorth.

Wednesday... and I am MIGHTILY MIFFED at Google and their PLUS. All those hours spent 'cracking the code' and figuring out the names of every single 'div' and 'span', every box, button or bar, so that I could add a splash of colour to their kitchen appliance-cum-snowscape of a design - and it's ALL BEEN A WASTE OF SODDIN' TIME! For the second time in under a month, they've changed the whole bloody lot again! I don't think I'll bother doing any more "STYLISH" for GooglePlus anytime soon...

This week's SKIVE-OFF AFTERNOON found me taking a slow train to Salisbury to peruse a few charity shops. I also stopped off in Southampton for the second time in under a week, this time to visit HMV to buy "THE WINE OF SILENCE"...

I haven't decided if I actually like it yet. The main appeal of the ELECTRONIC soundscapes of ROBERT FRIPP is their spontaneity - the music is of its time and of the place in which it is created. By spending ten years or more turning them into ORCHESTRAL works, to my ears at least, something has been taken away rather than added to the music. I take on board that the music might sound better 'live' than on record, but all I have to go on IS the record - I subscribe to the FRANK ZAPPA view that "THE RECORDING IS THE COMPOSITION", rather than Fripp's "AN ALBUM IS A LOVE LETTER BUT A CONCERT IS A HOT DATE". As an record buyer, I don't have the benefit of comparing. Having said that, I dare say that it WILL grow on me. The music that works the best on record are the CHORAL pieces, which sound the LEAST like the original sources (but maybe fail if judged alongside similar works by Arvo Part or John Tavener). We shall see...

Week from Monday 14th May 2012

This week it's (supposed to be) all go on the BIKE-RIDE-O-PRINT-&-COLLATE-O-THON-A-GO-GO thingy, so today I'm filling in charts, converting old CorelDraw artworks into that new fangled SERIF PAGEPLUS format we have now, as well as cutting sheets of stickers in half, all to the tune of a couple of choice items from the (soon to be defunct) KING CRIMSON COLLECTORS' CLUB series.

DREAM DIARY... I've been having some REALLY disjointed dreams lately, as if the little synapses are misfiring like the set of grease-encrusted sparkplugs that they are... random montages of seemingly unrelated images in quick succession... Like my waking hours, they are accompanied by an EARWORM soundtrack featuring niggling bits of Jethro Tull (which, I suppose, IS currently understandable!). When the dreams eventually 'settle' on something, they often involve situations that have NOTHING to do with 'real' life at all (at least not MY 'real' life, anyway) - Lots of banal stuff about offices and conferences and exhibitions... If I didn't know better, I'd say that they were SOMEONE ELSE's dreams!

Week from Monday 21st May 2012

Too busy for a 'big day out' this week. But I did trawl the charity shops locally while I was out and about. A couple of nice classical items fell into my possession - a rather good Russian recording of RIMSKY-KORSAKOV's "Sheherazade" and a VERY good disc of ENNIO MORRICONE's chamber music. Downside: despite it being on Virgin's reputable avant-garde VENTURE label, with a nice arty cover and everything, the sleeve notes are USELESS - track titles but absolutely NO musician credits or details about the compositions beyond that. A search on the web proved fruitless. There were postings on forums to the tune of "I've bought this album, does anyone have any details?", so I'm not the only one who is baffled. What were they thinking? Lovely album though, especially the tinkly-bonk meisterwerk "TRE STUDI".

DREAM DIARY... I went to a "WOMAD" to see Led Zeppelin... As is often the case in my dreams, I seemed to have a free run of the festival site. I didn't have to pay to get in because I 'found' a stock of wrist bands on the way to the show... When I arrived, Zep were already playing to a surprisingly empty arena... Robert Plant was dancing around in the crowd, chanting (he had a radio mike headset on) while the rest of the band were on a ridiculously high stage about fifty feet above our heads... Then just as I settled in to watch the show, they STOPPED playing, because they'd "just got some bad news about Jason's mother...". Plant said that he and Jimmy would be "playing around the site throughout the weekend, but the others had to leave..."

This Saturday afternoon, I found myself listening to DUTCH RADIO again. VPROJazzLive recently aired an Amsterdam concert by COMICOPERANDO, the all-star ROBERT WYATT 'tribute' project featuring Dagmar Krause, Chris Cutler, Karen Mantler, Annie Whitehead et al. STERRRRRAIGHT onto a CD-ROM with it!

Back to the endless CHURCH LIST collating... still far too many things highlighted in red or greeked in grey for my liking. On an unrelated note, I've also tried to solve the problem of why the menu bar on the Sephrina website keeps going back to a dirty brown instead of the black that I wanted it. It seems the Volusion site is impervious to CSS re-styling. They keep 'correcting' my code and changing things back to how they were.

Something else HTML-related that has come to my attention is that the DATE-STAMP on this here BLOGGY DIARY THINGY had stopped working. It just sat there displaying an OLD date, rather than the date of the most recent entry as it was supposed to. But apparently, you can't do these sort of things using FrontPage Extensions or 'web-bots' anymore - that's no longer 'compliant' with modern browsers! The only surefire way involves doing something server-side using Java or PHP. Hmm, well... The words 'SLEDGE HAMMER' and 'WALNUT' spring to mind, especially as it's only me that gets to see it now (for the very reason that I don't HAVE a public server for it to live on)! The simple JAVASCRIPT PROPERTY "document.lastModified" does pretty much what I want, but only if I don't mind being stuck with American-style dates. It'll be an interesting exercise to see if I CAN find a way of cracking it sometime, another one of those R&D projects. I'm sure there must be scripts out there somewhere...

I'm immersed in another volume of PG WODEHOUSE from the library. I must have read (and re-read) dozens of these PLUM omnibuses (omnibi?), but I still find myself habitually skipping over the golf pieces. They are as rich with rollicking prose and larger-than-life characters as are all the other stories, but I can't work up much of an enthusiasm for the subject, no matter how much I try. JOKES ABOUT SPORT, even those from the pen of the high master himself, are about as interesting to me as... well, SPORT, as it happens...
Hoorah! it's EUROVISION SONG CONTEST time! I've just spent two hours with my jaw somewhere south of my knees, at the extraordinary spectacle being beamed out of Azerbaijan... and that's just the first semi-final!
In amongst all the bland generic 'eurofodder' one usually encounters, there were a couple of performances that practically REDEFINED MUSIC AS WE KNOW IT.
The MONTENEGRO entry was three-minutes spent in the company of an ugly, dirty-haired man shouting incomprehensibly in broken english, such as one might encounter late at night outside a bus station.
But it was ALBANIA who have really pushed the envelope this year. A weird-looking alien woman spends her allotted time running exercises in extended vocal technique, eschewing songform entirely. It has to be heard to be believed. Amazingly, people actually LIKED IT, enough to vote it into the competition proper! Can't wait for the next part! This is GRIPPING TELLY!
This week, I went for an OUTING that DIDN'T involve a lot of poking around in charity shops... I hopped on a train for the one stop to BOTLEY and then walked back, about seven miles in total... Down the road as far as CURBRIDGE and then follow a Forestry Commission trail through woods and fields, sweeping vistas, not another soul in sight... after a while you start to notice that you can hear traffic noise again. You peep over a hedgerow and see a bloody great Tesco's sign and then realise you are in... WHITELEY!! The footpaths become a little more 'furnished' and you notice that you are sharing them with suited people with mobile phones, out on their lunchbreak... THE COUNTRYSIDE OFFICIALLY ENDS HERE. You are in the middle of a trading estate... From hereon it's concrete and tarmac again, as far as TITCHFIELD...
EUROVISION PART TWO!! Another two hours of exquisite torture...
I would LIKE to say that SWEDEN have a surefire winner this year with Loreen, if the voting were any reflection of musical QUALITY. Pure class and a memorable song, even if the image and moves ARE directly out of the book of the OFFICIAL KATE BUSH IMPERSONATORS' GUILD.
But I'm afraid that the UKRAINE will probably be the ultimate winners, because they have fielded a truly horrible, screechily anthemic M-PEOPLE soundalike. And for reasons that will always escape me, people actually LIKE that sort of thing.
These days, there is always at least one eastern European country that put forward a heavy metal band. This year it was the turn of SLOVAKIA. They were very good at it too, albeit in a 1982 IRON MAIDEN-LITE MEETS BON JOVI sort of way. They did not qualify.
The award for the most ridiculous entry goes to the NETHERLANDS. An extremely chirpy woman, wearing a Native American headdress, strummed a country and western number about children playing cowboys and indians, which gradually builds to a full-blown hootenanny with buffoons pretending to play fiddles and accordions. They did not qualify. It's Holland. They never do.
The last of the "PROFILE 1.0" pages on my[_____] have now been forcibly dragged screaming into the current decade - but, of course, that means a resumption of the old "WHICH IS BEST?" and "GIVE US BACK OUR PROFILES" arguments, still going strong even two or three years down the line. The unavoidable fact is my[_____] ALIENATE AND DRIVE THEIR MEMBERS AWAY because they never have tutorials for this kind of thing and, what is more, they killed off the forums and threads which allowed those in the know to share tips and pointers with the less savvy. I'm using one of of our many 'abandoned' sites (TEASET BODY REVIEW) as a test bed to see what you can and can't do with HTML on Profile 3.0. Then I can report my findings in some kind of tutorial blog of my own...
EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: the finals... I'm happy (if not a little surprised) to report that, despite all the showbiz buffoonery and ridiculous political voting that we have come to expect from Eurovision, this year the 'SONG CONTEST' was actually won by the BEST SONG for once!!
(Grattis till Sverige och särskilt Loreen)
But I should never try to second-guess Eurovision. That appalling Ukraine entry that I predicted would go down a storm didn't do very well at all. I would have thought it was the very epitome of the established Eurosound, for better or worse (mainly the latter). Clearly I know nothing. On the other hand, Albania's extraordinary demonstration of radical freeform extended vocal technique WAS ACTUALLY VOTED FOR by enough people to make it well within the top ten. There's no accounting for taste. Maybe next year we should get JULIE TIPPETTS or PHIL MINTON to render the UK entry?
Hardly anybody voted for the UK, of course. That had nothing to do with Engelbert's song which, admittedly, WAS crap. Being in oompahpah waltz time, it was a throwback to the sixties Eurovision sound of "Boom-Bang-A-Bang". It also had a musically inappropriate modulation in the middle. No, it had nothing to do with that at all. They just don't like us out East.

Week from Monday 28th May 2012

I took in a couple of CAR-BOOT SALES on this hot and sticky weekend. On Saturday, I went to the little one in Whiteley Lane (bought a CROSSWORD DICTIONARY) and on Sunday, I went to the big one in Bridgemary. It was TOO big. You couldn't possibly browse everything, you had to be selective after a while or fatigue set in. I came away with a copy of SYSTEM MECHANIC for 50p (which doesn't work properly, because its licence has expired) and a hardback copy of CHARLAINE HARRIS' latest, also for 50p (which does work!)

Another session of checking through CHURCH LISTS this morning, then I'm resuming work on my my[_____] tutorial blog.